Can running sneakers be used for hiking?
Is it ok to go hiking in running shoes? Short answer: Totally. Long answer: Totally, but there are some things you might want to keep in mind.
We’re firm believers in the philosophy of “you do you.” Whatever shoe keeps your feet happy and gets you out on the trail is the right shoe for you! But to have fun, be safe, and stay comfortable, it’s important to think about what kind of terrain you’ll be tackling and the features it might call for.
If your hike is going to be easy and short and the terrain is good, wear whatever running shoes you think will be comfortable. If the hike is going to be a tough trek, we recommend that you opt for some more specialized hiking shoes. Issues such as waterproof, non-slip, firmness, and warmth need to be considered.
RUNNING SHOES VS. HIKING FOOTWEAR
Hiking shoes and running sneakers may look similar, but understanding the key differences between them can help you make the right call for your feet and your hike. Here at Wmshoe, being the slightly footwear-obsessed crew that we are, we love a good chart. Check it out:
|Shoe Feature||Hiking Boots or Shoes||Running Shoes|
|Outsole||Tend to be more rugged and grippy with higher traction||Tend to be smoother, made for pavement|
|Upper||Built to be durable, weather-resistant, and protect against trail hazards||Designed to be lightweight and breathable|
|Toe protection||Made to protect toes from rocks, stumps, etc.||Typically have little to no toe protection|
|Ankle support||Mid and high cut boots offer additional ankle support||Typically offer less ankle support than hiking styles|
|Weight||Tend to be heavier||Are often lighter overall|
THE ADVANTAGES OF HIKING-SPECIFIC FOOTWEAR
There are three main factors to consider when picking out your footwear: waterproofness, level of traction, and level of support.
Most running shoes don’t come with waterproof protection, so if you know the going will be rainy, mucky, or puddle-y, you might want to seek out waterproof footwear.
Then there’s traction (you don’t want to go slipping down an incline). If you’re setting out on a steep or slick trail, opt for more traction rather than less, and get a pair of hiking boots specifically designed for the task.
Support is the most subjective of these three qualities. Everyone needs a different level of support to feel comfortable, and only you know what feels right for you. In general, you can expect hiking shoes and boots to offer a more supportive feel. (Running sneakers are usually made for flexibility over support, but higher-supportive running shoes are known as “stability running shoes.”)
And when you’re carrying a fully-loaded backpack, you may find that the added weight means you need a more stable and supportive pair of shoes than normal. That’s why “backpacking boots” are in a category of their own.
Here are some of the most popular hiking shoes on our website:
COMFY FEET ARE HAPPY FEET
Our feet are complex machines, maintaining balance and stability through three anchoring points (it's called the "foot tripod"). If all three spots are supported, feet fully contact the ground with every step, staying nice and comfy out on the trail. Whatever shoes you wear should support your heel, the base of your big toe, and the base of your pinky toe.